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having a fun winter trip, though it had its pitfalls (not weather-related)

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I have now been on the road for more than nine days. I sit in Toronto, 750 miles from home, as I write this. Aside from some pitfalls, this trip has been a great one for the social creature that I am, and the first trip I've made where I am meeting more people who I've met on the Internet.

The trip started out by me being stood-up. I left Friday night/10th, staying in S.W. suburban Chicago, planning to meet somebody who I've been talking to online since December. We have yet to hear each other's voices, but have written each other extensively. We were to meet at a library 10am Saturday/11th, but he didn't show up. He finally emailed me about 12:30, explaining that he got in an argument with both his parents, who are old and need looking-after. He made the mistake stopping there first, to see if they needed anything, before heading to the library, and he said the argument ruined his day where he knew a visit wouldn't work. This was after I mailed him around 11:30 and let him know I was upset, and after his reply, I sent a subsequent mail asking for an apology and further explanation, and that I still hope we can meet someday, but I cannot make more plans that get dashed. When he told me what had happened, I told him that I wished we still could have been there, sex or no sex, so that I could have listened to him, held or hugged him, heeded his tears, or whatever happened. We are still mailing, and he agrees with my insistence that we now talk on the phone first, if he wants to see me in May. He also realizes that if plans are made and he again doesn't show up, I will not try again. We seem to share a lot of interests, and seek to talk and hang out in addition to the frottage-sex we've talked about. Of course I go into anything like this with some wariness and certainly with alertness, but also open-mindedly and with full intentions of attention and friendship. We shall see.

After this (and, while being stood up, I hung around the computer room where he was to meet me, and I caught up on some online stuff I wanted to do), I got ahold of two North Shore friends (in "Rogers Park" Chicago, and in Evanston), and I met up with the Chicago guy about 3 hours earlier than originally planned, as he was free. We ate at a place called the Heartland Cafe, which is a healthy, leftist-type eatery also in the Rogers Park neighborhood. He is a straight 30'ish guy, bald, hunky Czech guy and highly intelligent, does a lot of work in the technical aspects of audio and video. We share tastes in the-more-bizarre-the-better stuff, and I first met him about a year ago - he was the first person I ever met "because of the internet" - I met him via eBay. (No, we don't play around - never will - that's true of the vast majority of people I know.) About the time he had to go, it was time for me to meet up with Marty, a guy I've gotten to know via the vinyl-record trade shows in the Chicago area (which, indeed, one of which I went to the next day, Sunday/12th). Again, he's entirely straight, 62 years old (me +4), another extremely intelligent guy, very Jewish, and absolutely wonderful to hang with. (Again, we'll never "fool around" either and that's fine.) We have become very close over the past three years, he's certainly the best friend I've ever had via the "record business" other than a guy I befriended in 1973 and who died of AIDS in 1997. Because the earlier Cafe meal was only a salad and not much more, Marty and I went to a place near his Evanston home which has fried calamari (squid) which I was Jonesin' for big-time, and I again wasn't disappointed. We hung out until after midnight, and we followed each other to the record show Sunday, and afterwards we ate at a great soulfood restaurant in Hillside. (This gem hasn't been "discovered" by the tourists; we are always the only Caucasians in the place.) The record show was the usual blast for me, too - not only did I find some uber-cool stuff for my summer 2006 catalog, but also some fun stuff for my collection as well. These shows have also become social events for me as well, as there are some dealers I've come to enjoy immensely visiting with during the day, including one guy who sometimes comes up from Dallas to set up and sell. (He has relatives still living in southeast Chicago.) This took care of the weekend...

Monday/13th had me heading east, with the goal of being in Toledo, Ohio by 5PM. I was a little early, so I stopped off for a couple hours at the South Bend, Indiana public library and did a bunch more computer stuff. I got to Gary and Brian's there about 5:20, and we soon went out to eat, and otherwise hung out. They're two bears, both marginally younger than me, and I've known Gary for close to forty years...we used to play around a LOT in the 1969-1972 era. I don't think I ever had sex with Gary after about 1972-or-3, and we remained friends through a 13-year relationship that he had while living in Kalamazoo then Grand Rapids. (He is from Toledo originally, and he now lives less than 1.5 miles from his original home.) Gary's lot in life has changed MUCH for the better in the past year, as his bondship with Brian is just under a year old, and Gary also managed to find a good job for the first time in several years. Gary shares my deep love for music, though his tastes are fairly conventional and do not include the weird tangents and bizarre worlds that are part of my range of tastes. Brian is a wonderful guy too, and it's great seeing the two in a clearly loving relationship.

I left their place at their bedtime, and headed north to get a motel room near Detroit. I had a 10:30 appointment to meet a suburban masseur for the first time - another guy who I found on the internet - whose ad made it clear that he is open to a sexual massage as well, if the customer wants that. And inexpensive, too! Very friendly dude, in his 20's with a nice swimmer's body type (physically-fit ectomorph). At least half-Asian, with the exquisitely smooth skin. His massage was indeed wonderful and sensual, and when he asked if I wanted a "happy ending" I said SURE, and I also told him he'd probably be surprised that he doesn't have to do much. And indeed this was his first encounter with frottage, where I "got my rocks off" merely by full body contact, cock against his hip and waist area (in front, on his side, on his back) and eventually kumming on the middle of his back. Massaging his upper-torso and arms and muscles was the mechanism to turn me on. His email (after the thank-you one I sent, where I also explained aboiut frottage) said that indeed it was a new thing he hadn't encountered before, and that he found it to be enjoyable. I plan on seeing him for more massage (and good times) on future Michigan trips.

Onward I stopped at a fish market in Dearborn to buy myself an expensive and large meal, two pounds of walleye and lake perch fried-to-go, there are very few substances I enjoy eating more than these two kinds of fish. That is definitely "cheating" on my diet, but most of my eating sticks with the plan of veggies, fruit, things like yogurt etc. I later ended up at a community college library for more computer stuff, including interactive stuff (chat, etc.,) and ate supper, then I was done with the United States for a while...OR SO I THOUGHT.

I got across to Canadian customs in Windsor, and they decided to inspect me. I drive a utility van with windows only in front and on the back doors, and inside I have most of my clothes, a mattress and bedding, etc. As such, and even though had a passport, Canada COULD NOT be satisfied that I indeed only planned to visit for less than a week. They KICKED ME OUT, because they were convinced I was trying to immigrate illegally! What a f***ed-up bummer...

But, fortunately, albeit with a lot of hassle, a "fix" WAS possible. It required that I return all the way to western Illinois to get paperwork "proving" that I was indeed currently firmly rooted in western Illinois and probably not just giving it all up. I was able to show I had JUST paid my electric bill, and that I am solvent, etc. 1,100 miles later, on Thursday afternoon, they LET ME IN at Sarnia, Ontario. HOORAY!!! I was willing to go through that extra hassle, because going to Canada is always something exquisitely special to me, and this was certainly not going to be an exception.

Once in the country, I drove onward to Toronto - via Goderich, a very scenic small town on Lake Huron, which I wanted to see again for the first time since 1970. It has grown remarkably since then; the town centre is an octagon with streets as "spokes," as remembered. If I wasn't in a hurry, which would have allowed said leisure if I had not been detained the first time, I would have liked to spend a good part of a day just hanging around town. Instead, going to Tom's was central to that day. After eating on the way, I got to Tom's late in the evening. I met Tom on an internet sex group, and we've been talking a lot, and it was great to finally meet him. What a sharp guy, one of the most intelligent I've ever met - a genius, at least. He loves world music, especially east African, and he even makes some of his own music. This guy's a nice fuzzy bear, and there's no lack of stuff to talk about. Oh, and he's totally blind too, with a beautiful black Lab guide dog. I've headquartered myself at his place while I'm in Toronto, and we both agree that it's great he doesn't have to feel that he must constantly entertain me. I actually arrived late on his birthday, which was actually even more cool, and Friday/17th there were nine of us meeting for a couple hours at a downtown Chinese restaurant for his birthday party. His bearfriend Bill, and myself, were the only two "sighted" people in the group, and it was enjoyable meeting these nice people. (I also think Tom, Bill and myself were the only gay people in the group.) Tom had Friday off work, and we hung out pretty much all of Friday and Saturday. Then there was Sunday/19th, a wonderful day with some strange overtones, putting that date into a world of its own.

This will give an idea how strange this day was. Here I am in a sprawling metropolitan area of 4 million or more people. I found out that there was a record (vinyl) trade show happening on Sunday, which was incredibly fortuitous, because I love looking through Canadian 45's/singles, something I cannot do very often. I spent the alloted 5 hours at the show (that's all the time they had for the public, 11am-4pm), running into some people I hadn't seen since the 20th century. It was a very small show, and there was only one vendor who had really good stuff, and imagine my surprise when I found out he was the very same person I'd been talking to for months and was planning to meet Monday or Tuesday! Small show, small world...amid a day of very strange coincidences. Okay, remember how large a metro-area Toronto is. The record show could have been anywhere in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). So why was it that, while I had my car parked near Tom's place to visit Tom, I NEVER had to move the car at all to go to the record show, because I was parked even CLOSER to the record show!!! Yes, the record show was across the street from his high-rise complex. So truly surprising. None of this was even the best part of a precious day, either. I was finally going to meet a long-ago former customer who bought records from me in the 80s and 90s, a woman who is a musician herself, and who used to sort of "pen-pal" with me about music, politics, etc. She is as nice in person as in the mail and meeting her was great, but it was also strongly evident that she MUST meet Tom as well. So part of the plan was not only for me to meet Suzanne at a nearby Indian restaurant, but for Tom to come by to see us after his practice session with a local music-band of South African immigrants. What are the chances of these two people meeting, otherwise?

...Both are gay (i.e. she's a lesbian)
...both are musicians
...both have a strong appreciation of world music (she once opened for Johnny Klegg, in fact)
...and in fact Johnny Klegg is South African as well
...Tom's favourite (I'm in Canada now) music comes from Madagascar, if he had to choose one country
...Suzanne visited Madagascar for a couple weeks several years ago

Needless to say, Tom and Suzanne got along quite well. I think I have introduced two people to each other, who may well have a strong and long-lived (and platonic) friendship. That is SOOOOO WONDERFUL! Suzanne is going to send Tom her CD, and Tom said that the CD from his band will be out in June. THIS IS SO GREAT!!!What's really wonderful is that Sunday's practice was the FIRST session he's had with these Africans, and they were very pleased with his keyboard work. I certainly wish Tom and Suzanne well on their new friendship, I always enjoy when I can bring good people together. Oh, this is the first time I ever met Suzanne, too - we tried meeting in 1998 and it was never able to schedule itself. I look forward to more happenings as this trip progresses, and I know this blog got pretty long, but these are the kinds of trips and happenings that I enjoy. I have often said that the "holy grail of friendship" is just the simple activity of hanging out and sharing, and that even goes for gay friendships as well.

And indeed, though I met Tom on a gay internet group, and we slept in the same bed, we haven't had sex, and very possibly never will. With the amount of intellect available, the sex part is almost irrelevant - I'm not really his type anyway as he likes 'em tall and stocky (not obese). I'm not obese, but I'm not the preferred "bigger than him" either. I greatly look forward to a future Canadian trip, and now that I know the really big record show is the one in Missasaugua, perhaps I can even schedule around that someday.

Another "slice of my life," a rather big one - just thought I'd say hi to you, whoever may be reading this.